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'Beethoven Suites' with Mandolinist Julien Martineau and Pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell Out March 6

'Beethoven Suites' with Mandolinist Julien Martineau and Pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell Out March 6

On March 6, 2020, Naïve Classiques will release Beethoven Suites, an album of works by or inspired by the great composer performed by mandolinist Julien Martineau and pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell. In this album, his third on naïve, Julien Martineau once again spotlights the mandolin's remarkable repertoire, nobility of character, and natural ability as a partner. Together with pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell, he has devised a program truly Beethovenian in its inventiveness, influences and associations.

Beethoven discovered his love of the mandolin in Prague in 1787, at a time when the Bohemian public was able to admire, under Mozart's direction, a Don Giovanni production in which the title character performs his iconic serenade, "Deh vieni alla finestra" with a mellifluous mandolin accompaniment. According to Philip J. Bone, the eminent historian of the instrument, the mandolin instantly conquered Prague society, to such an extent that it was played in the most exclusive musical salons by titans of the nobility and the bourgeoisie.

"Even if it remains little known, an original high-quality repertory for mandolin and piano does exist," says Martineau. "This program brings together a lot of repertoire that is extremely virtuosic, but not at all showy. Here there's no way to hide behind mere technical brilliance: this recording is above all a chamber music disc, a dialogue of equal voices."

In Martineau and Mosell's album, Beethoven wears the crown, with four youthful pieces he wrote for this unusual duo combination, and the "Allegretto" of his Symphony No. 7 in a transcription by Hans Sitt. Gathered round his throne are those inspired by him - his contemporary Hummel, Romantic virtuoso Fritz Kreisler, and two composers of today: Walter Murphy, whose pop music arrangement realized by Bruno Fontaine brings in contrabassist Yann Dubost and percussionist José Fillatreau; while Corentin Apparailly responds to Beethoven's Letter to the Immortal Beloved in a work specially commissioned for this album.

"The purpose of this recording is to reveal a significant literature that doesn't get performed often enough," says Mosell. I'm thinking of the Beethoven pieces but also of the Hummel sonata, which is a masterpiece. Revisiting these works with a modern piano, different from Beethoven's instrument in terms of both its action and its expressive potential, stimulated me to try to find new sonorities and an ideal balance between the two instruments."

Julien Martineau is one of today's most remarkable and exciting mandolinists. His approach to the mandolin, at once lucid and impassioned, sweeps away all clichés: for, although the instrument is known to the general public for just a few emblematic pieces, its repertory, from the Baroque to today, is immense and richly rewarding for anyone who seeks to explore it and emancipate it from the family of plucked string instruments. And Julien Martineau possesses the adventurous soul, the appetite for exploration and the consciousness of a musician with wide-open ears that prompt him to embrace the singularity of his instrument while looking out upon broad horizons. He was a guest soloist at the Victoires de la Musique Classique in 2017, and made his debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in December 2018, under the direction of Rinaldo Alessandrini with whom he recorded his most recent album of concertos (naïve). His concert appearances with such orchestras as the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, the Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine, Pygmalion, the Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa, the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn and the Orchestre de Chambre de Toulouse enable him to demonstrate the virtuosity but also the delicacy of his instrument, as do his concerts at the Théâtre du Châtelet and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, the Grand Théâtre de Provence, La Halle aux Grains in Toulouse, the Victoria Hall and Grand Théâtre in Geneva, and La Folle Journée in Nantes, Russia and Japan. He has initiated a number of innovative programmes conceived with prestigious partners: with the pianist Bertrand Chamayou, he devised a programme of sonatas for mandolin and piano from the eighteenth century to the present day; he has accompanied the singers Roberto Alagna, Natalie Dessay, Sabine Devieilhe, Thomas Hampson, Florian Sempey and Laurent Naouri; and in 2016, with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, he premiered Karol Beffa's Mandolin Concerto, which is dedicated to him. He has also recorded the complete Preludes for solo mandolin of Raffaele Calace (regarded as the mandolin equivalent of Paganini's Caprices), which he presented on France 2 television in the programme of the pianist and composer Jean-François Zygel, with whom he collaborates regularly. His interest in the mandolin is also reflected in his passion for instrument making. For several years now, Julien Martineau has worked with Savarez, the world leader in guitar strings, to develop new mandolin strings using the latest technological innovations. He plays an instrument specially designed for him by one of today's great luthiers, the Canadian Brian N. Dean. Julien Martineau won the Giuseppe Anedda Prize at the 1998 Varazze International Competition (Italy) at the age of nineteen. He also holds a DEA in musicology (Paris-Sorbonne, 2002). Very attached to the future of his instrument, he has taught the mandolin at the Toulouse Conservatoire since 2005. The Académie des Arts, Lettres et Sciences du Languedoc awarded him the Déodat de Séverac Prize in 2013.

The Italian musician Vanessa Benelli Mosell is now recognised as one of the world's most talented pianists. Her flawless technique and outstanding musicality were forged in part by her encounters with such mentors as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Yuri Bashmet. Her career focuses on the mainstream classical repertory but also on contemporary music, which fascinated her from a very early age. She has already recorded six albums for Decca Classics, receiving several awards for her recordings of Stockhausen but also for Rachmaninoff's Second Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Vanessa Benelli Mosell appears regularly in the most prestigious concert halls around the world, including the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Teatro Regio in Turin (for the Mito Festival), the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, the Seoul Arts Centre, the National Concert Hall in Dublin (with the RTE Orchestra), the Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts, Kings Place in London, Lincoln Center in New York, the Zurich Tonhalle, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona and the Auditorium de Radio France. A last-minute replacement of Martha Argerich with the Moscow Soloists launched Vanessa Benelli Mosell on an impressive career accompanied by the international orchestras of such cities as Bologna, Munich, Zurich, Jerusalem, London and Moscow. Karlheinz Stockhausen invited her to come and work with him and praised her 'ability to make the public appreciate my music'. Since then, her passion for contemporary music has grown all the stronger, and she has taken part in numerous premieres of works by such composers as George Benjamin, Hugues Dufourt, Stefano Gervasoni, Martin Matalon and Marco Stroppa. Vanessa Benelli Mosell started playing the piano at the age of three and gave her first concert a year later. At the age of seven, she was admitted to the Imola Piano Academy for gifted children, under the direction of Franco Scala. At the age of eleven, she performed in New York in a duo concert with the French pianist Pascal Rogé, who said this young artist had 'the most natural musical talent I have ever encountered in my life'. In 2007, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow noticed her capacities and invited her to study under Mikhail Voskresensky; she subsequently graduated from the Conservatory with the highest honours. She concluded her studies in London in 2012, under the guidance of Dmitri Alexeev at the Royal College of Music, thanks to the award of the Russel Prize. In 2016, she was named a Steinway Artist after receiving support from the Keyboard Charitable Trust.

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From This Author Abigail Charpentier